International Affairs Program 


Students majoring in International Affairs (IA) study issues of conflict and cooperation in the international system. This involves examination of domestic influences on state behavior, the foreign relations of states, and characteristics of the international system. Central concerns in IR include power, strategy, war, international cooperation, trade, and economic development. Each course endeavors to give cadets a basic understanding of the subject matter, to present a methodology for solving real-world problems, and to indicate the relevance of the course material to the cadet's future as an Army officer and as a citizen. Graduates with an international relations major will have practiced the ability to do the following: think critically about complex political issues, test hypotheses using reliable methods and evidence, evaluate the moral dimension of issues in international relations, appreciate the existence of uncertainty and its significance, and see important events and issues from multiple perspectives.

Michael Pompeo visits SOSH

Photo: Cadets meet with Secretary of State (then-CIA Director) Michael Pompeo

The IA major consists of 10 courses. All majors will complete three “toolbox” courses in Political Analysis, Comparative Politics, and Advanced International Relations Theory. These courses provide an essential foundation for future study. In addition, all IR majors must complete two additional courses (beyond the core) in a foreign language. The next four courses consist of electives from all of the sub-fields of political science: two IR electives, one comparative politics elective, and one American politics elective.

Satisfying the elective requirements for the major enables each cadet to tailor the major to their specific interests. Electives in international relations can include courses in environmental science, history, IT, law, and military science. Common topics include terrorism, American foreign policy, conflict & negotiation, international political economy, and the interdisciplinary course on Winning the Peace. The comparative politics elective also enables students to take courses in history, law, and military science. Common course choices include those focusing on a specific region of the world (China, Korea & Japan, Middle East, Latin America, Africa), or thematic courses such as democratization and anthropology. The American politics elective incorporates courses in history and law and can include study of topics such as Congress, the presidency, the media, civil- military relations, homeland security, and defense policy. Regardless of your interests, elective requirements are designed to be flexible. The IR counselor stands ready to help you meet your needs as you develop your academic program.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker visits SOSH

Photo: Cadets hear from Ambassador Ryan Crocker

As the final required course, all IA majors take SS483 National Security Seminar as their integrative experience. This capstone provides an overview of U.S. national security policy and examines the military, political, economic, and technological factors that influence its formulation. The capstone establishes a conceptual framework for exploring how national interests are translated into national security strategy and force structure. Since many factors impact on strategic decisions, the course includes discussion of international, domestic, economic, technological, and organizational influences on national security policy. Theoretical readings combine with case studies of past and current U.S. strategic choices to illuminate critical points.

Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Douglas Lute visit SOSH

Photo: Faculty meet with Ambassadors Douglas Lute and Ryan Crocker

The IA major is designed to prepare cadets for long-term personal and professional development. To supplement classroom experiences, many cadets participate in extracurricular activities such as Model United Nations as well as a wide variety of opportunities to study abroad. Although not mandatory, each cadet is strongly encouraged to participate in an Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD) experience.

The Department of Social Sciences offers a wide variety of AIADs of interest to International Relations majors. International AIADs include credit and non-credit options. Non-credit AIADs include opportunities to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in places such as India, Tanzania, Peru, Cambodia, South Africa, and Jordan. Credit options include a variety of academic programs in Europe, Vietnam, and the Middle East. Opportunities also exist for placements in U.S. embassies worldwide. In addition, there are many domestic AIADs of interest to international relations majors. These opportunities include internships in organizations such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, Pentagon, Congressional Research Service, and other executive branch agencies. Finally, the Combating Terrorism Center offers AIAD opportunities in a number of New York City and Federal organizations.

Cadets aspiring to graduate with an IA major with Honors will take an additional elective course to increase their depth of study. They will then take the capstone course, SS483 National Security Seminar, in the fall of their Firstie year as part of a two- course thesis sequence. Honors students will continue work on their theses in the spring of the first class year by taking SS498 Senior Thesis in the Social Sciences during which they will finish writing and defend their theses.

Click here to view the International Affairs Major brochure